Works in Progress

fall crush : coming soon, with any luck, to a bookstore near you

Although Belinda Fox is beautiful, the same can’t be said of the Victorian mansion she buys in Burkhart, a small town in the Sonoma County wine country. Her plan to turn the house into a bed-and-breakfast inn – preferably before she runs out of money – is hindered by a series of accidents and a sinister legend that the house is haunted by the Frog Woman, a figure out of Native American legend.

As Belinda struggles to identify the person (it can’t be a Frog Woman, surely?) who pushes ladders over, lights fires in the house, and leaves four-fingered handprints on the mirrors, she makes friends in the idyllic (if tourist-infested) town.

There’s Alice Phillips, a laid-off technical writer and ardent Anglophile, who says “bloody” and “crikey” a lot. Alice’s mother, 78-year-old Claire, still works as a proofreader for the Burkhart Beacon, and Alice’s daughter has started blogging. Grace is only 12, so Alice won’t let her post online, but Grace contributes to the narrative.

Then there are the men. Jock Martin, the helpful nephew of the mansion’s former owner, might be attracted to Belinda, or to Alice, or to both. Neal Kennedy, a Burkhart cop, is definitely attracted to Belinda, and builder Dave Freitas would be attracted too if he could stay awake long enough.

All this takes place in the autumn of 2008, as the economy tanks and Americans decide whom to vote for in the presidential election.

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